Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter based in Christchurch.

Kiwis awarded Victoria Cross during WW1 honoured

Cyril Bassett gained his VC for bravery at Chunuk Bair. File photo / NZ Herald
Cyril Bassett gained his VC for bravery at Chunuk Bair. File photo / NZ Herald

New Zealand authorities are discussing where to erect a memorial plaque that immortalises Kiwis awarded the Victoria Cross during WW1, which has been gifted by the UK Government.

Sixteen New Zealanders won the highest award for gallantry and bravery during The Great War 1914 - 18.

Their citations read like blockbuster Hollywood scripts - of single-handedly wiping out machine-gun posts and disregarding mortal injuries to drag wounded mates to the safety of the trenches.

On Friday at Lancaster House in London, The Duke of Kent and the Senior Minister of State Baroness Warsi presented 11 bronze memorial plaques to commemorate the 175 men from overseas who were awarded the honour.

They're made up of Christchurch carpenters to Danish aristocrats and American doctors.

The eleven plaques will be sent to New Zealand, Canada, Australia, South Africa, India, US, Pakistan, Nepal, Denmark, Belgium, and Ukraine.

New Zealand's decoration, inscribed with each Victoria Cross holder's name, is being sent here under instruction to be displayed in a "prominent location".

British High Commissioner to New Zealand, Vicki Treadell, said she is in discussions with New Zealand authorities over where the bronze plaque will go and when it should be unveiled.

"Clearly we would like it displayed in a place that is fitting and acknowledges the considerable bravery and sacrifice displayed by these men," she said.

"As Baroness Warsi said at the presentation in London, the plaques are a symbol of the gratitude felt by Britain towards those who fought so courageously during the First World War."

The unveiling is likely to be some time next year.

Baroness Warsi said the plaques, which form part of the UK's official First World War Centenary programme, are intended to be a symbol of gratitude from the people of Britain towards those who fought during the First World War.

"It is important to remember this was a truly global war, one which pulled in people from every corner of the earth," she said. "I am determined that we ensure that people of all backgrounds and of all generations learn about the courage and heroism of their forefathers a hundred years ago."

August 5 this year will mark the centenary of New Zealand declaring war on Germany.

Before the armistice between Germany and the Allied Powers on November 11, 1918, more than 100,000 New Zealanders served overseas during the bloody conflict, with at least 18,000 dead and over 40,000 wounded.

* NEW ZEALAND'S VICTORIA CROSS WINNERS:

Cpl Leslie Andrew

Cpl Cyril Bassett

Sgt Donald Brown

Pte Thomas Cooke

Pte James Crichton

Sgt Samuel Forsyth

LCpl Samuel Frickleton

Sgt John Grant

Sgt Reginald Judson

Sgt Henry Laurent

Pte Henry Nicholas

Lt William Sanders

Capt Alfred Shout

Lt Percy Storkey

Sgt Richard Travis

Cpl Lawrence Weathers

- APNZ

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